There is something airy about a place with a constant smell of sulfur and where steam billows from the ground. Even the hot water from the tap has the sulfur smell. The upside, of course, besides looking really cool, is being in a country with countless hot-springs and a strong economy from energy independence. And, yes, strong, despite impressions from the 2008 economic collapse. Everyone seems to live comfortably and crime was unseen.
Last Winter I was at 60° South lat. in Tierra del Fuego, and now, trekking at 64° N. lat. shows the similarities that make being in these places so special, glaciers as low as 1000 m with days long enough to exhaust any endurance fanatic. I arrived prepared, with wool and hard shell in hand, and the near arctic weather delivered. There was an afternoon of much welcomed sunshine surrounded by days of wind and precipitation in all its forms: rain, sleet, hail, you name it.
My goal for this stopover en route to Germany was the now often World Bucket-list labelled Laugavegurinn, or Laugavegur hiking trail (55 kilometers). I allowed myself four days, but ended up chaining the first two days to allow myself a little hot-spring and Reykjavik time. The trek connects the Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk nature reserves, maintained and serviced by the Ferðafélag Íslands (FÍ). It offered a surreal, mostly treeless but moss covered scene, where abundant geothermal activity has altered the mineral content of the rock, providing hills, mountains and canyons exhibiting a spectrum of colors from red and yellow to blue and green; and, with the occasional glaciated volcano in the background.